10 Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid in 2018

10 Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid in 2018

Most people think of SEO as doing keyword research, blogging and content optimisation, while technical aspect often gets neglected. Content marketing strategy is a process which requires time to implement before you can see some results. On-page SEO techniques are must, but often pointless if you are ignoring technical elements.

Technical mistakes can kill your SEO strategy, all you need to know is what needs to be done at that time.

In this article, we will share some of the most common technical SEO related mistakes.

Read this article to give your website the love it deserves.

1. 404 Pages

Pages which cannot be found on your website can make a big dent in your SEO strategy. This mostly happens with the eCommerce websites, where a product is removed and your product link shows 404 page.

Google understand sometimes you have to delete some pages from your website, that’s why 404 pages won’t kill your SEO strategy.

404 pages can create a problem when you are getting organic traffic or you have shared the links on social media websites.

You can avoid 404 errors by setting up proper 301 redirects to most relevant pages. This will make sure that user can navigate through your website seamlessly.

How to find 404 errors

  1. You can find the 404 errors by using website crawl software like Screaming Frog.
  2. Check you Google Search Console for crawl reports (Crawl > Crawl Errors).

How to fix them

  1. Analyse 404 error on your website and make a list.
  2. Crosscheck those links with Google Analytics data to find out which link is getting more traffic.
  3. For those links, identify the most relevant pages on your website which can serve users with the same kind of content.
  4. Setup 301 redirects from the 404 page into the page you have just identified.

2. Crawl Budget

There are billions of websites on the internet, which makes harder for Search Engines to crawl all those sites. In order to save time, the Googlebot has a budget which it allocates to a website depending on the number of factors.

The more your website has authority the more you will get the budget. Websites with lower authority have less likely chances to get indexed in Google Search Engine.

How to find errors

Find out what your crawl stats are in Google Search Console. Select your domain in Google Search Console and then go to Crawl and then Crawl Stats.

Also, check your server logs to find out what Googlebot is doing on your website.

How to fix

Block all pages which you don’t really want them to be indexed.

Reduce redirects on your website.

3. XML Sitemap

XML Sitemap lists out all URLs on your website which needs to be indexed by search engines.

You can specify when the page was updated last time and how often it changes. You can also set the priority for the page as compared to other pages.

Sitemaps can be beneficial if your website is very big and it will be hard for search engines to identify the updated pages on your website.

If your crawl budget is misused on some page, which is not really important, then you can block them by setting NOINDEX for those pages.

Sitemaps can also be useful if you have pages on your websites which isolated from others or no proper interlinking is done.

How to find errors

Make sure you have submitted the sitemap to Google Search Console. Keep an eye on sitemap errors in Google Search Console (Crawl > Sitemaps > Sitemap Errors).

How to fix

Make sure your sitemap is submitted to Google Search Console. Check server log and find out how often Google is crawling your sitemap.

If you are using any plugin on WordPress website then make sure plugin is updated.

4. Issues with robots.txt

A Robots.txt file contains information on how search engines will access your website. Most of the time people don’t understand the functioning of robots.txt file which crushes the indexation of websites.

Most problems occur when you don’t change robots.txt file when moving from a development environment to production or live.

How to find errors

Check Google Search Console reporting (Crawl > robots.txt tester). Also, check your Google Analytics account for traffic stats.

How to fix

Check Google Search Console reporting (Crawl > robots.txt tester) this will validate your file.

Make sure the pages you don’t want to be crawled are in robots.txt file.

5. Website Speed

Website speed plays an important role in SEO. Google or any other search engine expect to load your website in 2 seconds or less. Slow websites don’t make any money, people don’t wait for slow websites to load.

Optimising website for speed will require some technical skills as most websites are slow because of poor images optimisation, the wrong code is written and running so many plugins.

How to find errors

You can use below tools to find out all errors regarding your website speed.

  1. Google Speed Insight
  2. GTMetrix
  3. Pingdom

How to fix

Hire a developer with the complete understanding of the development process.

Make sure you keep testing the website speed during development on a staging domain (not on localhost).

If you are using WordPress or any PHP CMS, upgrade PHP to the PHP7 version which will have a big impact on website speed.

6. Optimise for Mobiles

Google’s index is Mobile First, which means Google will look at your mobile website first before ranking your website.

According to the above update from Google, your website should provide the user experience same on both desktop and mobile site.

How to find errors

Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to check if Google sees your website as mobile friendly.

If your website doesn’t work on mobile devices, now is the time to fix it.

How to fix

Focus on building your website from a mobile-first perspective. Google likes Responsive websites to serve a mobile version. If you are using a plugin to make your WordPress website responsive that won’t work as it may cause some other issues.

You need to find a developer who can build your website or theme from scratch with Mobile First approach.

Test your website on all devices both iPhone and Android. If you are still using Flash on your website, consider moving to HTML5 which render better on mobile devices.

7. URL Structure

As your website grows, it’s easy to lose track of URL structures and hierarchies.

Poor URL structure will make it difficult for users and bots to read URLs which will have a big impact on SEO ranking.

You should avoid using special characters and capital letters in URLs. If you don’t structure your directories or subfolders, that will make your URL structure more complex.

How to find errors

If you have a lot of 404 errors or 302 redirects then you should revisit your URLs structure. Run a full website crawl using ScreamingFrog.

How to fix

Make sure you are using a planed site hierarchy and all content is placed in its correct folders.

Make sure your URLs are readable and SEO friendly.

8. Canonical Tags

A canonical tag (aka “rel=canonical”) is a piece of HTML that helps search engines decipher duplicate pages. If you have two pages that are the same (or similar), you can use this tag to tell search engines which page you want to show in the search results.

If your website runs on a CMS like WordPress or Shopify, you can easily set canonical tags using a plugin (we like Yoast).

How to find errors

Run a full website crawl in ScreamingFrog.

How to fix

Review all pages to determine if canonical tags are pointing to wrong page or content. Also, you will need to conduct a content audit to find out all relevant pages.

9. Less content

Google Search Engine wants to rank only those pages which provide deep information and value. Having too much less content can have an impact on SEO.

Content which is not relevant to user search query will kill your conversion and engagement rate. Google’s algorithm looks heavily at the content quality, trust and relevancy.

Having too low-quality content on your web page can decrease search engine crawl rate, page indexation and ultimately traffic. You should always write more detailed, useful and relevant content.

How to find errors

Using ScreamingFrog run a website crawl and find pages with word count less than 500. Check your bounce rates and user time spent on page.

How to fix

Instead of writing content around one keyword, place more than one keyword in your content and write detailed information on those keywords.

Enrich your content with the variety of content like videos, info-graphics or images.

10. Page Markup Errors

Page title and metadata is very important to optimise your page for Search Engines. Most of the time site owners forgot about title and meta descriptions while creating a web page.

How to find errors

We recommend to use Yoast and find out how well your title and meta descriptions work. Use your targeted keyword in your title and metadata tags.

Use ScreamingFrog to identify duplicate title tags and missing title tags.

How to fix

Use Yoast to see how to rework the titles and metadata especially meta description.

Meta description data used to be set to 255 characters, but now the average length it is displaying is over 300 characters – take advantage of this increase, thanks to Google.

Use SEMrush to identify and fix any missing or duplicate page title tags – make sure every page has a unique title tag and page meta description.

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